Американские физики создали сверхчувствительный датчик теплового излучения из чешуек крыльев бабочек рода Morpho и нанотрубок из углерода, опубликовав инструкцию по сборке таких «термометров» в статье в журнале Nature Photonics

Бабочки из рода Morpho славятся яркими и блестящими крыльями перламутрового, синего и бежевого цвета. До середины 20 века ученые даже и не предполагали, что красота их крыльев обеспечивается не особой пигментацией, а уникальной структурой чешуек. «Частокол» из полосок хитина на поверхности крыльев особым образом преломляет и отражает свет, что и дает бабочке уникальную атласную или перламутровую окраску.

Группа ученых под руководством Радислава Потирайло (Radislav Potyrailo) из Центра глобальных исследований компании General Electric в городе Нискаюна (США) заметила, что оптические свойства крыльев бабочки Morpho sulkowskyi меняются даже при малейшем росте температуры воздуха или ее понижении.

Потирайло и его коллеги проанализировали структуру чешуек крыльев бабочки при помощи высокочувствительного микроскопа. На их поверхности физики обнаружили особые светопреломляющие «елочки», размеры которых уменьшались или увеличивались при колебаниях температуры. При этом менялась и частота света, который отражался от крыльев, так как длина его волны напрямую зависела от размеров «елочек» на чешуйках.

Синяя окраска бабочки Morpho sulkowskyi (слева), обусловлена ёлкообразной наноструктурой её крыльев (справа).

 

 

Затем ученые использовали крылья бабочки для сборки теплочувствительного датчика, приклеив несколько чешуек к тонким углеродным нанотрубкам. Как объясняют физики, однослойные трубки из атомов углерода хорошо поглощают инфракрасное излучение, и их добавление позволило усилить чувствительность и отзывчивость супер-«термометра» на основе крыльев бабочки.

Получившийся прибор работает следующим образом: тепловая энергия поступает на углеродные трубки и передается на чешуйки бабочки. Те меняют свой цвет, что фиксируется светочувствительными датчиками и обрабатывается компьютером, который рассчитывает параметры инфракрасного излучения.

Собрав работающий прототип датчика, авторы статьи проверили его работу, постепенно нагревая его от отрицательных температур до 30°С. Устройство великолепно реагировало на малейшие сдвиги в температуре окружающей среды — «термометр» реагирует на рост или падение температуры на 18-62 тысячных градуса Кельвина. По словам ученых, это делает их изобретение более чувствительным по сравнению с большинством современных коммерческих термодатчиков.

Экспериментальная версия датчика способна фиксировать около 40 изменений температуры в секунду. Авторы статьи полагают, что этот показатель можно будет улучшить при помощи специальных шумоподавляющих компьютерных алгоритмов, обрабатывающих исходные данные.

Как считают Потирайло и его коллеги, создание искусственного аналога чешуек бабочки и сборка серийных супер-«термометров» помогут многим астрономам, биологам, геологам и другим ученым.

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